We were in Taupo for about a month before we made it to one of the area’s main attractions, Huka Falls. Although it isn’t as tall as Taranaki Falls or Tawhai Falls, which are just south of Lake Taupo, Huka Falls is just as impressive due to the force and amount of water flowing over it.
What makes Huka Falls interesting and worth the visit is the speed and amount of water going through the small canyon carved into the rock. Huka Falls starts with white rapids that stretch about 200 yards down the river before you come to the falls. There is a small foot bridge at the beginning of the rapids, and peering to the top of the rapids reveals a small, calm lake. It is surprising to see such a serene body of water just above this foaming, white river.
You walk along the rapids to reach Huka Falls, which is only about 10 feet high. In pictures the falls looks more like part of a river than an actual waterfall, but in person the falls is clearly defined. The brilliant turquoise blue that is trimmed by white fluffy sprays is stunning. The water looks so clean, it actually feels as though you are in a highly chlorinated water amusement park, rather than walking by the pristine rivers of New Zealand.
At the base of the falls is a huge wave pool, which really makes you want to grab a inner-tube and take the falls white water rafting style. We were lucky enough to see some of the tour boats approach the falls while we were there. When I read about these tours I though it was something I really wanted to do, but I was a little disappointed when I saw them in action. The boat doesn’t get anywhere close to the waterfall and only approaches the rapids at the base. It does look like fun jetting around the river in the high speed boat, but I think if I do a boat tour I might go with a slower one so I get better pictures.
Huka Falls is definitely worth the visit, and you can make it a quick stop or a long tour. There is a 2 hour hiking trail around the falls, and driving around the area revealed an empty vantage point from the other side. Bring a light jacket, as it was a hot day when we were there, but the wind from the water was very chilly. The crowds seemed to come and go in waves, so if you can’t get the perfect picture just stick around until a few of the tour groups leave.